Last month, the AC Next Gen Project, which will update and expand the America’s Center Convention Complex in downtown St. Louis, received financing approval from the City of St. Louis. This expansion will not only allow St. Louis tourism to compete on a national level but will help secure its place as an economic and employment driver for the entire region. It will be the convention center of the future.
The advancements and developments to the America’s Center Convention Complex will support thousands of jobs in skilled trades, construction, and the hospital industry. This in turn will bring much-needed economic stability to our region.
The total cost of building the AC Next Gen Project is estimated at approximately $175 million and currently includes the following elements, as well as several other improvements.
- Addition of 92,000 square feet of highly usable exhibit space, which changes the exhibit hall layout of the Complex allowing the facility to host larger events.
- A 60,000 square feet signature multi-purpose ballroom and meeting area with 20,000 square feet pre-function event space for clients, positioning St. Louis dominantly in its competitive set.
- 22,000 square feet of new support space to improve service access to current and new exhibit halls and ballrooms.
- The construction of 26 new loading docks and renovation of existing 12 docks that will all be enclosed to enhance access and aesthetics of the building and surrounding areas.
- An outdoor pavilion to serve the needs of convention attendees and improve the convention center district ambiance for residents and area workers as well.
- Refurbishment of the central Washington Avenue entrance, which serves as St. Louis’ front door for the hundreds of thousands of event attendees who visit the Complex.
- The Dome will remain a flexible multi-purpose venue for meeting planners and other clients hosting large-scale events and activities.
- A video detailing the preliminary AC Next Gen project is available at explorestlouis.com.
The St. Louis-area hospitality industry has been devasted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We still face challenges but amid our current situation, we are taking this time to rebuild and redesign around the pandemic for the AC Next Gen Project. The improvements that will take place will make St. Louis competitive as tourism capitals across the country make large investments in their convention centers.
Once final design work is completed, businesses and residents in our region who work in the construction trades and hospitality industry will have a lot of work to do. Let’s get started!
John Ervin is Audio Visual and Production manager for Explore St. Louis.